Three Critical Tricks to Hack and Win Meetings

If life is a series of never-ending wait rooms, entrepreneurship is a set of meetings. A successful meeting can often determine the difference between failure and success for a startup. It’s critical for every growing organization that as many meetings as possible are successful in order to keep the momentum of the organization going. Future customers, investors, donors, and partners often hinge on a contact point as low as half an hour.

A successful meeting can often determine the difference between failure and success for a startup.

I’ve been through a lot of meetings on a lot of projects, so I know what it feels like to go through each and every calendar invite on your list. It is tiring, but hang in there. You’re winning your way to success.

You want to make sure that those short, crucial meetings turn out to your mutual benefit. To that end, here are three critical points to ensure you hack and win your meetings.

1-Get a good space. Don’t just grab the nearest coffee shop. You want to be able to hear what the other people are saying, and you want to be able to communicate effectively: that becomes exponentially harder with a bunch of other people hanging around yelling about their lives. Make sure you spend a lot of time picking out just the right place: it can make all of the difference.

I live in beautiful Montreal, and I often freely explore coffee shops, and restaurants, and keep them held in a spreadsheet. I make sure the meeting I am going for is set to a place where I know the ambiance, and backdrop is just right: from meetings with investors to first dates. It works wonderfully when without even saying a word, you have already struck the right note with your meeting partner.

The space matters with code(love)

The space matters with code(love)

2-Come prepared with at least three meeting points. A lot of meetings get stalled because neither person has prepared exactly what they want to say, and that is the cardinal sin of meetings: wasting time. Bring points, and an agenda to the table, otherwise it will be a waste of time for both of you. Three is a solid set of items to consider, and even if you don’t bring everything up, you’ll be prepared in case it looks like the meeting is about to lag.

Make sure your points are organized thematically, and in a timeline that makes sense. It’ll help you look more prepared, more confident, and your message will be crisper.

Set the agenda with code(love)

Set the agenda with code(love)

3-Make sure you know what you’re willing to give, and what you’re looking to get out of a meeting. A meeting is often an exchange between people who would look to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Make sure you have an idea of what you want out of your first meeting, and what you’re able to give the other people, and be prepared to state it honestly. Show how you can pay it forward in return.

Oftentimes, this is the trick to getting meetings in the first place: you need to be able to clearly state what you’re able to give. I have gotten a lot of meetings by enumerating what I was able to offer: either new insight, my story, or some service like writing about their startup. Steve Blank, credited for launching the Lean Startup movement, and therefore a very popular target for meeting requests put it best in his piece “How to get Meetings With People Too Busy To See You”. Make sure you offer something of yourself if you’re expecting your meeting partners to do the same.

You don’t want to be known as the person who calls meetings just because they can.

You don’t want to be known as the person who calls meetings just because they can. Make sure your meetings are focused, productive, and mutually beneficial by following these three tricks. You’ll be able to hack and win your meetings, on your way to building and scaling that next great idea.

The author

Roger is an entrepreneur who has co-founded a social network entitled ThoughtBasin that looks to connect students looking to make a difference with organizations looking for difference makers. This experience has given him some setbacks, but also some priceless insights. He is deferring admission from the law school of University of Toronto to pursue his dream of creating impact through entrepreneurship, and he is constantly looking to learn and create, and to do more. He contributes to social entrepreneurship projects with his fellow Global Shapers, coordinates a volunteer tutoring site, and on his off time he unwinds by reading, writing, and dancing---sometimes, all at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Rogerh1991.